Turning the Page from Technical Writer to Novelist

It’s hard to believe how fast time flies. I began my “writing” career way back in 1993, when I stumbled upon my first job as a technical writer. At that time, I never imagined myself writing user manuals and programming guides. But, my diverse interests in technology along with my college experience were a natural fit for that type of work.

Over the next few years, I wrote countless books about computer hardware, software, security systems, and aircraft—which were used internally by various companies. I also coauthored two best-selling technical books called Systematic Software Testing, published by Artech House (London) and The Web Testing Handbook, published by STQE Publishing. My books were translated into several languages and distributed to readers around the world.

So what’s the problem? Perception. Whenever people asked me what I did for a living, I proudly told them, “I’m a writer” and everyone always responded the same way. “Omigod! Are you famous?” they asked. “What books did you write?” Their eyes lit up with excitement, automatically assuming that my work was in fiction. They anxiously awaited my answer, hoping that I’d rattle off the name of one of their favorite novels—but, I didn’t. My response always fell into an uncontrollable tailspin. “Uhmm… Uhhh…” I paused for a moment to take in a deep breath, then gave them the answer that I dreaded speaking and hearing the most:

“I’m a technical writer—not a novelist.”

“Oh,” they replied, as their face sank and they found a reason to excuse themselves or they quickly changed the subject to something else. The pattern repeated itself, every time I stumbled into that trap with someone else. They were expecting to hear about something exciting, not a dissertation about database architecture. I felt like I was letting them—and myself—down.

A few months ago, my life changed—dramatically. I was laid off from my day job and decided to live my dream of becoming a full-time novelist. I’m knee-deep into writing a story that will tug at my readers’ hearts, making them laugh, cry, worry, and rejoice as they turn each page to read the next. I’ll talk more about my novel as it evolves, but for now…  I just wanted to let everyone know that the purpose of this blog is to share my experiences with you as I make my transition from technical writer to full-time novelist.

If you’re in the process of making a similar transition with your writing career, I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a reply or share your comments below.

Stefan Jaskiel

Hello! I began his writing career way back in 1993, when I stumbled upon my first job as a Technical Writer. I never imagined myself writing user guides and programming manuals (technical how-to books), but my interest in technology coupled with my diverse college experience made me a natural fit for that kind of work.

About a quarter of a century later (in 2016), I finally cut his corporate ties (literally, with a pair of scissors), stepped out of the cubicle, and followed my heart back to the world of fiction…. kind of. Now, I writes how-to books about fiction as I make my transition from technical writer to full-time novelist.